Another page of the calendar has been flipped, time has fallen back an hour, and I am afraid that November will be just as busy as October. Our October at the Congregational Novitiate began with COVID testing and in the end there were five who were positive. So, plans and schedules were changed and we waited for the all-clear. Thankfully, after the surge we were able to return to near normal but every cough came with a prayer, “Please, not Covid!”
On October 18, the five postulants (Justa, Maria, Witness, Adventina and Cecilia) from Tanzania arrived with Sr. Martina, their directress, in the early morning hours. They were warmly welcomed with songs (prepared by Paula from Guinea Bissay) and Tanzanian instruments. Each remarked how welcomed they felt; though far from home, they were home. In the evenings, after supper and dishes, they all like to go outside and share their dances. Their favorite one is Jerusaleme, which every young person must know because the Tanzanians asked to dance to this song on the very first night. Since I have two left feet, I watch and hold the speaker so they can really hear the beat. Ah, to be young and have so much wonderful energy.
We prepared a Eucharistic celebration in English for the 30th anniversary of the Martyrs of Charity and the two Martyrs of Faith, made special by the two postulants (Marija and Mihaela) from Croatia being here. Fr. Steve, a Paulist from the States who is now the pastor at St. Patrick’s, the English-speaking parish in Rome, came to the Novitiate for the Mass and celebration. He knows Sr. Sara Dwyer and spoke highly of her! Way to go, Sara!
The postulants have started going to Caritas Italia for outreach, serving the many poor who come to have a hot meal and have other needs attended to while they are here. This has been such an eye opener that is filled with compassion and tender connections. It is interesting to listen to them when we come home and gather at table for a late lunch.
Helping them with English and especially the language of religious life keeps me busy during this time of transition to the Novitiate. One of the words in this series was “forehead.” One of the women popped up and said, “I’m not sure if Sr. Barb has a big forehead because she has a skirt on!” “What?” I said. “You know. Your hair has a skirt that covers up the forehead.” “You mean my bangs?” “Oh, is that what you call them?” Plenty of laughter followed that statement!
With that bit of humor, I leave you with a wish for a beautiful November and especially a graced Thanksgiving. The vines and trees are beginning to turn some beautiful colors so hopefully you can enjoy the special scents of harvest and the beauty all around.
Blessings to all,
Sr. Barb Smith, ASC